‘All is calm’: Cosmonaut allays concern about hole in the International Space Station

‘All is calm’: Cosmonaut allays concern about hole in the International Space Station saying the leak is fixed and ‘life is peaceful’ after Russian officials claimed it was deliberate sabotage

  • Sergei Prokopyev explained on a video that the hole was quickly patched
  • He said with a smile that ‘we aren’t trying to cover it with our fingers’ 
  • An investigation into the drill hole had failed to determine what caused it
  • The ‘micro fracture’ was discovered after astronauts noticed a drop in pressure 
  • It was originally believed the hole was caused by a micro-meteorite 
  • This was triggered by oxygen escaping from inside the ISS into space 
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A Russian crew member on the International Space Station (ISS) has said that ‘life is peaceful’ and the hole has been fixed in an attempt to address concerns about the air leak on the orbiting outpost.

The ‘micro fracture’ believed to be around 2mm wide in the $150 billion (£115 billion) space station was discovered after astronauts noticed a drop in pressure on 29 August.  

Last week a Russian official said the ISS leak could have been caused deliberately by someone on the ground.

Cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev explained on a video released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos how the crew last week located and sealed the tiny hole that created a slight loss of pressure.

Speaking from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station, where the leak was spotted, Mr Prokopyev said the hole was quickly patched, adding with a smile that ‘we aren’t trying to cover it with our fingers’.

The state RIA Novosti news agency reported that a government commission investigating the mysterious drill hole had failed to determine what caused it. 

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Sergei Prokopyev explained on a video released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos how the crew last week located and sealed the tiny hole that created a slight loss of pressure 

Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin said that the hole could have been drilled during manufacturing or while in orbit.

He did not say if he suspected any of the current crew of three Americans, two Russians and a German aboard the station.

Mr Prokopyev said the crew is in a good mood.

‘As you can see, everything is fine on board and we live peacefully together as always,’ he said in the video, in which he is speaking in Russian.

‘Our joint international expedition is working in a friendly environment.’

The hole covered with dark sealant is hidden under a padded flap, Prokopyev showed in a video he said he had made to ‘dispel rumours.’

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Prokopyev described how the astronauts discovered ‘a 2mm hole where our air was going out’ and covered it with three layers of sealant.

‘Please don’t worry we’re all right,’ the smiling cosmonaut said, reassuring viewers that the module is now ‘completely hermetically sealed’.

‘As you can see, we can easily be in here without space helmets and no one is plugging the hole with a finger as they write in the media.’

Prokopyev’s video prompted grateful comments on his social media page, with Diana Apalikova writing: ‘You are doing really well. Yes, people did worry too much.’

Others joked about the incident, such as Alexey Bolkisev, who wrote: ‘Next time try drilling holes when you’re sober.’


Speaking from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station, where the leak (pictured) was spotted, Mr Prokopyev said the hole was quickly patched, adding with a smile that ‘we aren’t trying to cover it with our fingers’ 

WHAT COULD HAVE CAUSED A HOLE IN THE ISS?

A tiny hole appeared in a Russian space capsule locked to the ISS on 29 August.

The ‘micro fracture’ believed to be around 2mm wide in the $150 billion (£115 billion) space station was discovered after astronauts noticed a drop in pressure.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst reportedly put his finger over the hole before crew patched it with tape.

The hole was confirmed repaired by Friday (31 August) after cabin pressure returned to normal. 

It was initially believed to have been caused by a small meteorite and astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a minor loss of pressure.

However, as the investigation went on it began to look like the hole was made from someone inside as opposed to outside, either back on Earth or in space, the Russian space agency claimed.   

A leading theory from an unnamed source at Energia has said that the hole was made on the ground – potentially caused by ‘deliberate interference’ – with suggestions the person responsible may have already been identified. 

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said on September 4 the hole was caused by a drill and could have been made with a ‘wavering hand’.

Another anonymous source said the whole was drilled by a worker who hid their mistake with a seal instead of reporting it. 

Previously Rogozin had said the hole in the side of the Soyuz ship used to ferry astronauts was most likely caused from outside by a tiny meteorite.

However, he says that theory has already been ruled out.  

Nasa is yet to make a comment on whether it could have been caused from within.

Last week space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin revealed that the hole in a Russian space craft docked at the orbiting station was caused by a drill held with a ‘wavering hand’.

A commission will seek to identify the culprit by name, Rogozin said, calling this a ‘matter of honour’ for Russia’s Energia space manufacturing company that made the Soyuz space craft. 

It was initially believed to have been caused by a small meteorite and astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a minor loss of pressure.


Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin said that the hole could have been drilled during manufacturing or while in orbit. He did not say if he suspected any of the current crew of three Americans, two Russians and a German aboard the station (pictured) 

However, as the investigation went on it began to look like the hole was made from someone inside as opposed to outside, either back on Earth or in space, the Russian space agency claimed.

A leading theory from an unnamed source at Energia has said that the hole was made on the ground – potentially caused by ‘deliberate interference’ – with suggestions the person responsible may have already been identified.

Sources suggest the question of how to fix the hole may have strained relations between Moscow and Houston.

‘There were several attempts at drilling,’ Rogozin said last Monday in televised comments.


A leading theory from an unnamed source at Energia has said that the hole was made on the ground – potentially caused by ‘deliberate interference’ – with suggestions the person responsible may have already been identified. Pictured is the Soyuz space craft


Russia launched checks last Tuesday after its space chief said an air leak on the International Space Station could have been caused by deliberate sabotage

WHAT IS RUSSIA’S SOYUZ SPACECRAFT?

Soyuz is a Russian spacecraft that carries astronauts and supplies to and from the International Space (ISS) station, as well as bringing people back to Earth.

It’s comprised of a rocket which carries a capsule into space. After launch the capsule and the rocket separate, with the rocket returning to Earth and the capsule continuing onward.

The capsule has space for three passengers and acts like a lifeboat for the ISS, with at least one Soyuz capsule always attached to the space station.

Each capsule has three parts, called modules. Crew members spend their time in orbit in the Orbital Module, which is about the size of a large van. 


A US-Russian crew launched to the ISS from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket on March 21

The Descent Module is used by astronauts when approaching the ISS or returning to Earth. A third module houses life support systems and instruments, including batteries, solar panels and steering engines.

Soyuz launches from Kazakhstan, Russia’s southerly neighbour, and takes just six hours to get to the space station.  The crew uses the hatch on the Soyuz to enter and leave the station. When the crew is ready to come home, they ride in the Soyuz capsule back to Earth.  

To land, Soyuz drops through Earth’s atmosphere and deploys parachutes which slow its descent. When Soyuz gets close to the ground, it fires small rocket engines to further reduce its momentum. 

He added that the drill appeared to have been held by a ‘wavering hand.’

‘What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?’ he asked.

‘We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space.’

An unnamed source at Energia told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that ‘[t]he hole was made on the ground’.

According to the source, ‘[t]he person responsible for the act of negligence has been identified’.

Another anonymous source said the hole was not made intentionally but by a worker who hid their mistake with a seal instead of reporting it.

If it was made on the ground, it seems the patched hole held for two months before the seal began to break.

One source told RIS Novosti that ‘the glue dried and was squeezed out, opening the hole’.

WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION?

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.

The space station is currently home to two Russians, three Americans and one Japanese. 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.


The International Space Station (file photo) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth

ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.

A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.

Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.

 

 

 

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